On Sunday Feb. 11th some 200 people gathered at remote Llandegley Rhos to wonder at the hundreds of thousands of starlings coming  to roost.  This was an astounding response to an invitation from local groups Friends of Radnor Forest, BRAG and Brecon and Radnor CPRW.  The stunning landscape of Llandegley Rhos is now dominated by Hendy Wind Farm (HWF) with 7 x 110m high second-hand turbines.

The conifer wood in which the starlings have roosted for decades has been sold and partly clear-felled.  The starling roost did not come into Natural Resources Wales’ decision to issue a felling licence.  For now, the famous murmurations are still happening but overall starlings numbers are in steep decline.

We don’t know what would happen to the red-listed starlings and accompanying rare raptors if Hendy Wind Farm turbines were operating.  HWF’s ornithological survey was a farcical under-estimation of numbers.  Mitigation for risk to starlings – required before any construction – is still unresolved.  Ecological concerns, including safeguarding the catchment of the Wye Special Area of Conservation carried little weight in decision-making. The Planning Inspector firmly believed that enforceable Planning Conditions gave water-tight protection.


2017:  The 2014 planning application was refused by Powys County Council Planning Committee

2018:   After a Public Inquiry into the Developer’s HWF Appeal, the Welsh Planning Inspector recommended refusal but Welsh Minister Lesley Griffiths approved the wind farm with safe-guarding planning conditions. HWF started immediately without any regard for the pre-construction planning conditions.  These require complete planning approval for a grid connection elements to avoid an inoperative wind farm.

2019:   One turbine was erected and “commissioned” (proved mechanically capable of electricity generation) just days before the generous subsidy applications window closed at the end of January 2019. Then work stopped for 16 months.

2020:   Tracks started under Covid restrictions: main work in 2021.   October 2021:HWF was completed but still without grid connection. HWF applied to alter the Planning Condition requiring removal of any turbine failing to generate electricity for 6 months.  They set a new start-date of 31/8/21.  Powys approved the change as a “Non-Material Amendment” – a minor alteration making no significant difference to the project impacts.

2023:   A planning application was submitted for a new grid substation near Llandrindod Wells.

It is FIVE YEARS since the first turbine was commissioned.  There is still no grid connection.  No electricity has been generated.  Powys has not enforced against any of the conditions breached.  So far, the Welsh Government has refused requests to intervene although Audit Wales issued a report fiercely critical of Powys Planning enforcement capacity.


What is more, HWF expect their flagrant flouting of the Welsh planning regime to be royally rewarded with enormous subsidies.  Ofgem appears happy with the crazy idea that a single “commissioned” turbine, representing a non-existent wind farm, establishes the right to a generous income stream from the public  purse over six years later.  Ofgem has been evasive when asked to clarify this point.

The public have learnt the hard way that there is no satisfactory environmental planning control over any renewable energy scheme constructed in Powys.  No wonder Radnorshire people are in shocked despair about Bute Energyplans for a wind farm very many times bigger on the peatlands of nearby Radnor Forest.  And Bute has 2 more proposals for Aberedw and Bryn Gilwern as well as one for 97 kilometres of overhead cables on pylons to Llandyfaelog, in Carmarthenshire.

Bute Energy Ltd  was raised in the Hendy stable.  Originally this was the name of a joint venture between Grayling Capital LLP and Njord Energy (current Director, Steven Radford) responsible for  Hendy.  The four directors of the former Bute Energy Ltd, now dissolved, were Steven Radford, who later resigned, and three Directors of the current Bute Energy Ltd.   Bute Energy Ltd is expected to sell on immediately if their new plans get consent from the Welsh Government.

Our Planning and Regulatory Systems are failing biodiversity and unique landscapes.

How does strengthening environmental planning policy help, if planning conditions count for nothing?

The picture is bleak for the gateway to Wales, its glorious landscape and its starlings.

Read more about Hendy on our article here.